8.20 Information & Procedures on Complaints

The Abertay University Complaints Handling Procedure

The University's Complaints Handling Procedure was first developed in 2013, and was revised in 2021, to comply with the requirements of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

The Abertay University Complaints Handling Procedure reflects the University’s commitment to valuing complaints. Our aim is to resolve issues of dissatisfaction as close to the initial point of service delivery as possible and to conduct thorough, impartial and fair investigations of complaints so that, where appropriate, we can make evidence-based decisions on the facts of each individual case. Complaints also give us valuable information we can use to improve.

Making a complaint


Anyone making a complaint is encouraged to raise it as early as possible and can do so by speaking with any member of staff face-to-face, by telephone, in writing or by email.

Resolving complaints early saves time and resource and contributes to the overall efficiency of the University, and helps to contribute to the continued positive experience of our students and members of the public. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman wishes as many complaints as possible to be addressed under the Stage 1: Frontline Response stage of the Complaints Handling Procedure.

Accordingly, the University seeks to resolve as many complaints as possible as near to their point of origin as possible.

If you have a complaint, if at all possible, please ask a member of staff in the School or Service concerned to resolve it locally and promptly at stage 1: Frontline Response.

Please note that there are time-limits on making complaints, for which please refer to the complaints procedure at the link below.

If you remain dis-satisfied or if it is not possible to resolve it this way, you are encouraged to consult the University's Complaints Handling Procedure for advice on how to progress your complaint or you can contact the University at complaints@abertay.ac.uk. However, it is important to note that the complaints administrator does not make decisions on the outcomes of any complaints.

Once completed, a Frontline Response stage complaint may be appealed internally to a Stage 2: Complaint Investigation, and once the Complaint Investigation stage has been completed, a complainant may appeal externally to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Detailed information on the definition of a complaint, frontline response, time-limits and other information is available in the University's Complaints Handling Procedure, and downloads and guidance are available below.

Experience has shown that in order to investigate complaints properly, and to balance fairness with the rights of person about whom the complaint is made, disclosure of the complaint is needed. Accordingly, complainants' name(s) and other necessary information about a complaint will normally be disclosed to other members of staff as necessary in order to investigate the complaint.

How to access the University's Complaints Handling Procedure

Please click on The Abertay University Complaints Handling Procedure. If you need a copy of this in a more accessible format, please contact us.

Students: please click on The Abertay CHP Guide for Students.

Please click on Make a Complaint to submit a complaint form.



Complaint received

A person may complain either verbally or in writing, including face-to-face, by phone, letter or email.


Stage 1: Frontline response

For issues that are straightforward and simple, requiring little or no investigation.  ‘On-the-spot’ apology, explanation, or other action to put the matter right 


Stage 2: Investigation

Where the complainant is not satisfied with the frontline response, or refuses to engage at the frontline, or where the complaint is complex, serious or 'high-risk'

Independent external review (SPSO or other)

Where the complainant is not satisfied with the stage 2 response from the University.

The SPSO will assess whether there is evidence of service failure or maladministration not identified by the University. 


The complainant and Institution agree what action will be taken to resolve the complaint. 

Reporting, recording and learning

Action is taken to improve services on the basis of complaint findings, where appropriate.

Senior management have an active interest in complaints and use complaints data and analysis to improve services.

Learning is shared throughout the University.

After the University's internal complaints procedure is exhausted, complainants (if still dissatisfied with the outcome) have the right to appeal to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. This is normally within 6 months of the event complained about (and the Ombudsman cannot normally consider complaints made after 12 months). The SPSO may be contacted on 0800 377 7330 or visit www.spso.org.uk or write to Freepost SPSO (no stamp needed).

Monitoring and use of information

Details of complaints are recorded for the purposes of monitoring and analysing complaints generally, and for reporting to University management and monitoring and evaluation in terms of quality assurance as the University is required to do under the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Code on Appeals and Complaints, and also as required by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. This monitoring includes anonymous key performance indicators considered quarterly by the Senior Management Team, and an annual report to University Court, including improvements made as a result of organisational learning from complaints.

The University has a legal requirement to monitor information including ethnic/racial origin, disability, religious belief, gender, age, sexual orientation, and national (UK/EU/International) status, and similar, in relation to student complaints, to ensure that no particular group is discriminated against, and to comply with equality legislation.

This information is used securely and confidentially by a small number of administrative staff, for statistical monitoring and anonymised reporting only, to ensure non-discrimination. Some statistical and/or anonymised reporting information will be published and disclosed to relevant external regulatory bodies, as required by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.










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